5 Reasons Kids Need Longer Recess at School

Dec 31 2012 - 4:12pm
Why pediatricians say kids' need longer recess at school

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) highlights the importance of recess for school kids that is just as important as learning math or the alphabet. One reason, according to the experts is that socialization that comes from play fosters skills that are just downright important for becoming happy healthy adults. The group is advocating for longer recess periods, and for good reasons.

There has been a huge focus on rates of childhood obesity also. Without adequate time for play, the problem is likely to continue to escalate. Providing ample time for recess during school hours helps kids learn which physical activities they enjoy and what they excel at, giving them tools for life.

An effort to cram in more academic hours is cited for shorter recess time, But the AAP warns it’s not a good idea and may even backfire. Unstructured play time –indoors or out – helps boost cognitive performance and increases memory.

The AAP also warns taking away recess as punishment can have a deleterious impact that could interfere with childhood development.

Five reasons recess is important

• Play helps children develop physical skills
• Interacting with others fosters better social skills
• Play or just quiet time can boost intellectual capacity
• Children become more morally conscious when they interact with other children
• Better classroom behavior

The statement from the AAP is published in the January issue of the journal Pediatrics and is based on multiple studies showing recess in school is ‘crucial’. It also stems from concerns that academic institutions are showing a trend toward shortening supervised breaks from the classroom.

The authors write: “A growing trend toward reallocating time in school to accentuate the more academic subjects has put this important facet of a child’s school day at risk.”

A 2009 study not only highlighted the growing trend of shorter recess time that was found to be as little as 15-minutes, but is also revealed 8 to 9 years olds given longer breaks from the classroom behaved better in the classroom.

In a review of the benefits of recess, Kara Tice, Metropolitan State College of Denver, notes studies that support increased attention and improvements in memory found in for both preschoolers and older children.

Extensive studies reveal playing with peers gives children a sense of belonging that could lead to positive feelings of self-worth.

Tice also cites the “Ellis theory”, developed in 1984 that states “…children will become less attentive to classroom tasks as a function of time, meaning that the tasks are no longer novel, or interesting. Playing offers a novel opportunity for children to get involved in something different and free them to return to their work with it being novel again.”

Quality is important

A Stanford University study also highlights how important it is to ensure kids have quality recess time that can mean less bullying and lower conflict among students, especially found in low-income elementary schools.

But perhaps schools are leaning toward shorter recess because they view recess as a liability.

The dark side of school recess

Playworks.org is committed to making child’s play healthy. They also explain there’s a dark side to recess that makes it important for adult supervision and coaching.



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Great article! Thanks for noting Playworks. We are so excited to see AAP's statement and a flurry of conversation on recess. It is our hope that everyone will see recess as an invaluable part of the day. Love your recommendation that every parent consider how a school deals with recess when looking into schools for their children!
Thank you sincerely Beth.
Could you list some ways that recess time should stay the same?
I don't think I can Nathan!
really? you want recess to be the same all students/kids love recess!
u mad bro?
Very good! Loved this! Using this for my research 101%
We should have more recess because you can exersize an lose fat
i think recess should be the same
you are dumb
be quiet our children need to get more fresh air
Don't cyberbully. That is mean.
no u just stupid
boy stop cyber bulling
I think recces should be longer because we will learn new things and we will have a good behavior.
resess is inportint to kids and parints
I wish to have more too
I think it should be longer
i like the idea
Im useing this for m reserch, Thanks CisActive - YouTuber
I really think recess should be longer.
i think that kids should have more recess to and i am a kid and i am in 5th grade
Im a kid
are these real facts
Yep...follow my links in the article. :)